Sunday, May 28, 2006

Number 9, Number 9...

It seems sometimes that the human quest revolves around the search for constancy, the quest for something eternal. I know, Sears makes tools built to last and Ford makes trucks built to last. But that's still transient. Built to last how long?

Even the smart guys look for it. Einstein, in the '30's tried to mathematically find some formula that would somehow describe the size, proportions, and limits of the universe. He gave up, calling it a blunder on his part to even try. So, he went back to the violin.

But then...

The other night I was listening to "Coast to Coast AM" in one of those fitful moments on late night awakedness. George Noory had on this guy that calls himself the human calculator. He's one of those guys that looks at everything in numerical senses. He figures out days of the week historically from a date, does math problems from left to right ignoring place values and just lumping everything together. That's something I can't even start to comprehend. But being awake at 2:00 am and not wanting to get out of bed sort of limited my choices. So I listened.

Somewhere into the second half-hour of his business, he brought up the constancy of the number 9. Follow this, if you can.

When you count past single digits, all numbers have a relationship to the number 9. If you take a number, say 43, and add the digits 4+3 you get 7. Now subtract 7 from 43 and you get 36. 36 is not only divisible by 9, but if you add the digits 3+6 you get 9. This works with any number. Try 2117, for example. 2+1+1+7=11. 2117-11=2106. 2+1+0+6=9. OR 2106 divided by 9= 234. 2+3+4=9. How about 1967? 1+9+6+7= 23. 1967-23=1944. 1+9+4+4=18. 1+8=9.

Try 666. 6+6+6=18. Need I say more?
This works every time. Why? It just does.

Now some of you scientist types out there have probably known this all along, but it's new to me. The math isn't as important to me though as the constancy it demonstrates. It's about an idea, a piece of truth that's unshakeable.

So, what does this prove? What house of cards does this support? Frankly, I'm not certain yet. I haven't stayed awake long enough to decypher it all. Someone tell me what this all means.

For now I'm content to spend my sleepless nights trying to find a 2 digit or more number that screws this up. If nothing else, it helps me fall back to sleep. Maybe that's all it's worth, but these days that's plenty.

As a young man, Einstein wrote his Theory of Relativity while goofing off at his job at the Swiss Patent Office.
When I was taught arithmetic in a rural one-room school in the late fifties and early sixties, we learned to "cast out 9's". It's a good way to quick-check a long addition problem. It can also be used to check multiplication and subtraction. I don't remember right now whether it works right with division or not. I can't recall what to do with the remainder (too many years since grade school).
Oh that's cool, Genevieve.

Many people assume they cannot "do" math ... yet consider:

The eyes receive billions of bits of data every second and the brain processes these and can perform the most complex of trigonometric calculations while, say, standing at a street corner deciding whether to cross.
This math stuiff is way beyond me. I take your word for it.
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